A serious contradiction
Last week we began our series by suggesting that it would be best if you took your current definition of love and completely scrapped it. Unless your’s is God’s, it’s broken and will only harm you and the others you attempt to share it with. We continue that work this week, building on the foundation that love is a decision, not an emotion.
If you are one who believes in the romantic notion to “follow your heart,” consider today (and every day until you believe otherwise) as Opposite Day. Although this rallying cry and motivational mantra sounds good and right, it is 180 degrees from either. Listen to what God says about your heart through the prophet Jeremiah:
The heart is deceitful above all things and is beyond cure.
Not a whole lot of mincing words there, and from that description, your heart is not something worthy of leading you (except, of course, down the really wrong and destructive road). Bottom line … Follow Jesus, not your heart. And since you’re not using it as a guide anymore, give it God as a reclamation and transformation project.
People hate love
Now, that just doesn’t make any sense … or does it? If we can truly scrap what we believe love is and replace it with God’s definition, this statement becomes 100% true. And it is simply illustrated in the person of Jesus. God is love. Jesus is God. Combine these two absolute truths and you get the resulting truth that Jesus is love. In fact, love is why Jesus came, and it’s all He came to the earth to show. In being born, living and dying, Jesus’ sole purpose was to show God’s love and complete His plan to redeem us. Jesus was completely sinless while He walked the earth. He never did anything hurtful to anyone. Yet, what did Jesus receive for all the good that He did? Utter hatred and a brutal death. If you read the story in the gospels about His last hours before being crucified, you get a vivid picture of the hatred which people felt for Him. Why?! Because God’s love doesn’t look, feel or act like the love we want. God’s love was not what they wanted (and you could easily say that this is true of us too) … but it is absolutely what they (and we) needed. Without the love which Jesus lived, we have no chance of being forgiven or accepted by God.
This love was the perfect illustration of the Apostle John’s challenge in 1 John 3:18:
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.
Love is truth, and we really don’t like truth. Truth is the bright light that we so often retreat from. We seek the shadows where we can do and say what feels good. What feels good. Remember, we have mentioned this so many times already in this series … our definition of love, or what it means to love, is based on an emotion … based on feeling good. Truth, and true love, so often looks and feels like discipline.
And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
It seems so “logical.” We know that allowing our own children (or other people who we love) to do whatever they want is not equal to loving them. We would end up with a world filled with Caillou’s, and you would never be able to hear or enjoy anything over the whining! We teach our children to be truthful, yet we do not fully grasp that love is truth. We discipline our children to teach and guide them, yet we do not like it when God does the same to us. Love is truth, and we so often hate it.
I want to know what love is
Yeah, try to get that 80’s classic tune out of your head! We are, indeed, foreigners (see what I just did there?!) in this world, and true love is foreign to our sin nature. So here’s a couple of simple things to help guide you in your quest to “know what love is.”
- your instinct is wrong, truth is not natural
- love requires your discomfort
If you try to follow your heart, you will always be heading in a direction opposite of true love. Follow Jesus, not your heart. And when you experience pain and suffering in this life, don’t forget that God’s love is nearest in those moments. A soft, tender feeling is not the target or often the outcome of true love. Know God, know love.